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This Iconic Grocery Store Chain Keeps Closing Locations

The reason behind the closures might surprise you.
FACT CHECKED BY Joseph Neese

After opening its doors in September 1916 as the first self-service supermarket, Piggly Wiggly cemented its place as one of the most iconic grocery stores in America. Previously, customers would give their grocery lists to clerks, who would retrieve the items from store shelves. It goes without saying that this innovative method of shopping revolutionized the grocery industry as we know it.

More than 100 years later, Piggly Wiggly is still in business with 530 locations in 17 states. However, it recently closed two stores in the span of a month. The first location (Faison, N.C.) shut its doors on July 24 after almost 50 years in business, according to the Duplin Times. The second store (Dothan, Ala.) shuttered four weeks later on Aug. 21, local news station WTVY reports.

Both of the supermarkets closed for the same reason—and the cause might surprise you.

Piggly Wiggly
Photo by Dick Whittington Studio/Corbis/Getty Images

Labor shortages are impacting every sector of the food industry right now, including the manufacturing sphere. Shortages of workers have in turn prompted shortages of certain grocery staples, which could potentially increase as COVID-19 cases rise.

The now-shuttered Piggly Wiggly location in Faison once had 40 employees, a number which dwindled as the pandemic continued. "A lot of people aren't applying for jobs," Scott King, the location's owner told the Duplin Times. "We couldn't find people to run our deli or meat cutters."

Related: This Is the Best Supermarket in America, New Survey Says

The remaining employees were transferred to a nearby location in Mount Olive, which King also owns and operates.

For its part, the Dothan location had signs on display in the front entrance revealing that the store had closed because of a labor shortage. In its absence, shoppers are being encouraged to visit another Piggly Wiggly location on Montgomery Highway, per WTVY.

Piggly Wiggly
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While these announcements may be unfortunate news for the local communities served by Piggly Wiggly, they aren't a sign of turmoil for the company at large. C&S Wholesale Grocery recently announced plans to buy Piggly Wiggly Midwest, which includes 11 corporate-run locations in Chicago and 84 franchises in Wisconsin.

Moreover, a new Piggly Wiggly store is set to open its doors in a food desert in Spartanburg, S.C. After Save A Lot moved out of the same location in 2019, customers dependant on public transportation were forced to take a three to five hour trip to the nearest supermarket, according to Go Upstate.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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